You are invited to join Women’s League Reads, a worldwide conversation about books of interest to today’s Jewish women. Women’s League Reads is a moderated online discussion group, via Google Groups, for members of Women’s League in which everyone is invited to post comments, ask questions and make observations about the book.
Membership in Women’s League Reads is open only to members in good standing of Women’s League-affiliated sisterhoods or to individual members who have paid dues directly to Women’s League. You may subscribe to by contacting Lois Silverman, Internet Services Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org, with your e-mail address, sisterhood name/town/state, or individual member information, and thereby join the online group for book news and discussions. For other questions and comments, contact Vivian Leber at email@example.com.
We are pleased to announce that The Flight Portfolio, a historical novel set in 1940 in occupied France, will be the next featured selection of Women’s League Reads. Members are invited to our Live-Interview with the author, Julie Orringer, on Monday, November 18, 2019, at 12 Noon, EST. (Instructions to join the Zoom conference call will be sent in advance. The interview will be recorded.)
A surprising Holocaust hero, Varian Fry, isn’t well known, although he has left a memoir, had a biographer, and was the first American to be recognized by Yad Vashem as a “Righteous Gentile.” He is credited with saving more than 1,000 lives. With vivid characters and cloak-and-dagger plot twists, the novel relates Fry’s mission, as agent for the U.S-based Emergency Rescue Committee, to find safe passage for important Jewish artists and philosophers who have fled Germany or Poland to occupied France, yet remain under imminent threat of handoff by the Vichy regime to the Nazis.
Fry shelters a group of artists at a run-down villa near Marseille, and plans the flight to safety of Marc and Bella Chagall, Hannah Arendt, and hundreds more on his “list” by bribing, counterfeiting, and plotting for their escapes through Spain or Lisbon to distant ports. The young Fry, age 32, must contend with some who are reluctant to be saved, making the risky bet that their fame will protect them – and with the U.S. State Department, which, save for one rogue official, is at odds with Fry and resists granting visas to those who need to enter. Resourceful “real” figures such as Peggy Guggenheim help through their wealth and connections, and his motley crew of clever staff and allies outsmart the French, the Nazis, and the U.S. government, while tragically losing a few clients. Many of the female characters who aid and abet him, mostly real historic figures, are terrifically clever and outspoken.
Within the larger drama are internal struggles: Fry as a closeted and married gay man (the author’s educated guess) is pictured in a fraught romantic relationship. Fry also is challenged to admit to the moral ambiguity of his rescue mission, which ranks people as worthy of being saved as correlated to their perceived brilliance and fame.
The novel, published by Knopf in May 2019, is 575 pages in hardcover, and available in e-reader and audible formats.
Ms Orringer is an oft-awarded writer of short stories and a prior Holocaust-themed novel, The Invisible Bridge, a New York Times best-seller.
WL Reads is a member-benefit program of Women’s League. Those who have joined the group will receive directions for the Live Interview several weeks ahead. To join, write to Lois Silverman at firstname.lastname@example.org with your Sisterhood name or individual WLCJ member ID.
For other questions and comments, contact Vivian Leber at email@example.com.
Conversations with the chosen authors and scholars:
To join Women’s League Reads, click here. Include your name, email, sisterhood, or notice that you are an individual member of Women’s League (not a member of a sisterhood). In addition to reading together, we look forward to sharing some exciting benefits of participation in this group.